Diocese says it supports sex-abuse trial of ex-priest

David Norton, currently in prison for sexual abuse of boys in his parish in the diocese of Huron, now faces additional charges in Yukon. Photo: Diocese of Huron
By on December 1, 2022

The diocese of Huron says it supports a criminal trial examining new allegations against a former Anglican priest convicted of sexual abuse as both the diocese and ex-priest face a $4.1 million lawsuit.

David Norton, 76, is currently serving 13 years in prison for sexual abuse of boys in his parish in the diocese of Huron. In September he appeared by video in a Whitehouse courtroom to face additional charges related to sexual abuse of two Yukon boys. Norton has been charged with four historic counts of sexual assault and two counts of sexually touching a person under the age of 16, related to incidents involving two victims that allegedly took place between 1983 and 1987.

“The diocese of Huron fully supports the inquiry into new allegations brought in a Yukon court against former Anglican priest David Norton,” an Oct. 13 media release from the diocese says. “We trust that the court proceedings will reveal the full truth about his actions.”

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The statement notes that Norton is already serving his prison sentence for crimes against minors committed in the diocese of Huron.

“Many have been hurt by his abuse of power that goes against the very essence of our faith,” it adds. “We continue to hold them in our prayers hoping that they will find strength to overcome the enormous pain they feel.

“The entire Huron community is willing to be a part of that healing process as all our members feel deeply betrayed by Mr. Norton’s actions.”

Meanwhile, an abuse survivor is suing Norton and the diocese of Huron for $4.1 million in damages, including $250,000 for mental distress and $1 million in punitive damages. According to the London Free Press, the Oct. 17 statement of claim alleges that Norton sexually abused the plaintiff—identified as J.C.R.K., who was a member of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church at Chippewas in the Thames First Nation—beginning in 1977 when the plaintiff was eight years old, and that the abuse continued for six years.

The statement of claim alleges that the Anglican diocese of Huron is “vicariously responsible and liable for the actions of Norton” and did not protect the plaintiff, instead attempting to cover up the abuse.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Reached by the Anglican Journal, a spokesperson for the diocese of Huron said they had been served the survivor’s lawsuit and would have to examine the claim in detail and discuss it with legal counsel before further public comment.

Norton pleaded guilty in February 2018 to one count of sexual interference of a boy under the age of 14 between January 1991 and December 1995 while working at St. Mark’s Anglican Church in London. In August he was sentenced to four years in prison. Later that year he was convicted of three counts of indecent assault and one count of sexual assault involving four former altar boys at St. Andrew’s between 1977 and 1983—one of whom is the current plaintiff—and sentenced to a further nine years in prison.

Requests by the Anglican Journal for further clarification from the Yukon diocese on Norton’s position had not received a response as of press time.

The diocese of Huron suspended Norton’s permit to function as a priest in 2015, after he was charged with sexual assault, and Norton relinquished his exercise of ministry as an Anglican priest in 2016.

As of press time, Norton was next scheduled to appear in Yukon court in November.

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  • Matthew Puddister

    Matthew Puddister (aka Matt Gardner) is a staff writer for the Anglican Journal. Most recently, Puddister worked as corporate communicator for the Anglican Church of Canada, a position he held since Dec. 1, 2014. He previously served as a city reporter for the Prince Albert Daily Herald. A former resident of Kingston, Ont., Puddister has a degree in English literature from Queen’s University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario. He will continue to support corporate communications efforts during his time at the Journal.

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